June 20, 2002


*A Samaritan Youth was Shot

*A Modern Samaritan Scholar

*The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela

*New Articles Posted at Our Web Site

*Two Stories of the Samaritan Passover

*Reminder of the Samaritan Torah Scroll at the NY Auction.

*Past Articles


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New Articles Posted at Our Web Site


Read and gain knowledge  at our website:

New! The Last Israelitish Blood Sacrifice by John D. Whiting, 1920.

New! The Samaritan Passover by Owen Tweedy, 1928.

A Samaritan Scholar:

Alan David Crown: Born 9/28/32 in Leeds, England, is now living in Australia, where he is a Professor at the  University of Sydney, Australia. Mr. Crown, is an author, editor, lecturer and one of today's top Samaritan scholars. Mr. Crown's contribution to Samaritan Studies has helped educate the world concerning the Samaritan-Israelites, not to mention all his other works. Thank You, Professor Crown!


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Shavuot was last Sunday, June 16th, 2002

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A Samaritan Youth was Shot

   A shooting incident took place when Yaacov, son of the priest  Matzliach, a deaf-mute, walked past the IDF barricade near the Jewish settlement of Berakha, unheeding the soldiers' call to halt, at the checkpoint.  The “A.B.” was informed by IDF Lt. Colonel Doron Segal, that the soldiers at the barricade could not have known that Yaacov was a deaf-mute and went by all the regulations before opening fire on the youth.  Yaacov who was hit in his thigh, was rushed to the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tiqva, where the operation  was successfully.  (A.B. News Services)



pages 32-34, 48

   Six parasangs from here is Caesarea, the Gath of the Philistines, and here there are about 200 Jews and 200 Cuthim. These are the Jews of Shomron, who are called Samaritans. The city is fair and beautiful, and lies by the sea. It was built by Caesar, and called after him Caesarea. Thence it is half a day's journey to Kako, the Keilah of Scripture. There are no Jews here. Thence it is half a day's journey to St. George, which is Ludd, where there lives one Jew, who is a dyer. Thence it is a day's journey to Sebastiya, which is the city of Shomron (Samaria), and here the ruins of the palace of Ahab the son of Omri may be seen. It was formerly a well-fortified city by the mountain-side, with streams of water. It is still a land of brooks of water, gardens, orchards, vineyards, and olive groves, but no Jews dwell here. Thence it is two parasangs to Nablous, which is Shechem on Mount Ephraim, where there are no Jews; the place is situated in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, and contains about 1,000 Cuthim, who observe the written law of Moses alone, and are called Samaritans. They have (p. 33 ) priests of the seed (of Aaron), and they call them Aaronim, who do not intermarry with Cuthim, but wed only amongst themselves. These priests offer sacrifices, and bring burnt-offerings in their place of assembly on Mount Gerizim, as it is written in their law--"And thou shalt set the blessing on Mount Gerizim." They say that this is the proper site of the Temple. On Passover and the other festivals they offer up burnt-offerings on the altar which they have built on Mount Gerizim, as it is written in their law--"Ye shall set up the stones upon Mount Gerizim, of the stones which Joshua and the children of Israel set up at the Jordan." They say that they are descended from the tribe of Ephraim. And in the midst of them is the grave of Joseph, the son of Jacob our father, as it is written "and the bones of Joseph buried they in Shechem." Their alphabet lacks three letters, namely He, Heth, and Ain. The letter He is taken from Abraham our father, because they have no dignity, the letter Heth from Isaac, because they have no kindliness, and the letter Ain from Jacob, because they have no humility. In place of these letters they make use of the Aleph, by which we can tell  that they are not of the seed of Israel, although they know the (p. 34) law of Moses with the exception of these three letters. They guard themselves from the defilement of the dead, of the bones of the slain, and of graves; and they remove the garments which they have worn before they go to the place of worship, and they bathe and put on fresh clothes. This is their constant practice. On Mount Gerizim are fountains and gardens and plantations, but Mount Ebal is rocky and barren; and between them in the valley lies the city of Shechem.

(page. 48)  Three thousand Jews abide in this city (Damascus), and amongst them are learned and rich men. The head of the Academy of the land of Israel resides here. His name is R. Azariah, and with him are his brother, Sar Shalom, the head of the Beth Din: R. Joseph, the fifth of the Academy: R. Mazliach, the lecturer, the head of the order: R. Meir, the crown of the scholars: R. Joseph ben Al Pilath, the pillar of the Academy: R. Heman, the warden: and R. Zedekiah, the physician. One hundred Karaites dwell here, also 400 Cuthim, and there is peace between them, but they do not intermarry.


Notes (notes not from article):

1. Benjamin of Tudela lived in the second half of the 12th century.

2. From Jerusalem it is two parasangs to Bethlehem equaling a distance of  five miles or eight kilometers.

Thoughts : From the first note on page 48of the above article, "Pethachia estimates the Jewish population at 19,000. This confirms the opinion already given (p. 26) that Benjamin refers to heads of families." If there were estimated to be 3000 heads of the Jews in the city making their total as per the note, to be about 19,000 Jews, than calculating, there would be 6 plus members per family. If the Cuthim were of Samaritan origins, then 400 times 6 would place over 2400 Samaritans living in Damascus at this time. Looking back to page 32 that displays a total of 200 Cuthim meaning Samaritans, multiplying by six would have totaled the number to be about 1200 Samaritans living in Caesarea in the year 1170. And as calculating the number of the Samaritans in Nablus from 1,000 heads of family, would change to 6,000 Samaritans. That is if the Samaritans and Jews had an average of the same number per family. And it could be that Benjamin's or Pethahiah (a 12th century traveler, visiting about 1175) numbers were wrong or during time there were 19,000 Jews but it does not necessarily mean that there were that many there, at the time of Benjamin's visit.

   Information from the Samaritan book, Tolidah, may give light to Benjamin's statements with the story of invaders capturing Samaritans carrying them to Damascus. This happened in 1137, when a raid by Bazwadj, captured five hundred Samaritans taking them to Damascus. An unknown number of the Samaritan families may have been to poor to pay the ransom demanded and forcing them to stay in Damascus. And if there were, say, one hundred persons of the five hundred that stayed for what ever reason, then after 33 years(1137-1170), say, per 6 per family(16 to 17 families) and each family had 6 offspring (as described above) that married at a young age and their children had the same, than the total from these 100 persons alone would have numbered well over 400 and that is not taking into count of any previous Samaritan families that may have lived prior. According to Itzhak Ben-Zvi's book, The Exiled and the Redeemed, Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro (1488) states that according to Samaritan sources of information, there were then in existence not more than 500 families numbering 2,500 souls including Damascus. That roughly is 5 members per family. So the family unit then could have been 5 to 6 members. But since the Samaritans were a minority and most likely fell under all types of abuse from the locals, would have made it difficult to raise an average size family, but again one never knows. Priest Amran Ishak wrote in, The History and Religion of the Samaritans, "And when Mohammed appeared, this nation was very numerous, and they possessed many cities and villages until the year 700 of the Hegira. And there were in the city of Caesarea, and round about it, about thirty thousand whom Salahuddin Alioseph (Saladdin) exiled, a man from the great ameers, Islam. And there was a great number of them in Damascus, and Asham, and in Egypt, and in Aleppo, and in Gaza, and in the city of Joppa, besides those who lived in Nablus and in this mountain." Priest Amran Ishak, stated, 'this nation' meaning the Samaritan nation. Zebulon Altif made a statement in an article called, The Good Samaritans, Somehow they have survived, by James Kraus; “We are really to small a nation to be of interest to anybody.” The article appeared in the Present Tense, in the summer of 1979 (vol. 6, #4), and it demonstrates that still today the Samaritans call themselves a nation. This shows that in 1184 there were more Samaritans existing in the land then either of our two travelers ever noticed or heard about.

For the entire text, visit this web site http://www.uscolo.edu/history/seminar/benjamin/benjamin1.htm


Two Stories of the Samaritan Passover

There are two new articles of the Samaritan Passover that have been added to our website archives; The Last Israelitish Blood Sacrifice by John D. Whiting and  The Samaritan Passover by Owen Tweedy. Both stories give a detailed description of  the Samaritan Passover in the 1920's, when the Samaritans dwelt in tents on Mount Gerizim. Tweedy's story how ever does appear nine years after John Whiting's account of the Samaritan ceremony. The first statement of Tweedy's 1928 article begins as follows, "The Samaritans are the smallest and oldest sect in the world." The title of John F. Hurst article of 1889 appearing in Harper's New Monthly Magazine was, "The oldest and smallest sect in the world." I appears to the reader (me) that Owen Tweedy's article was written from the two articles above. There is the second paragraph that does display some information concerning the Samaritan Passover falling on a Friday. His article was published about a year later than the described event giving him a window from another source. It is my conviction that Owen Tweedy never himself witnessed the Samaritan Passover but wrote his article from previous narratives of real eyewitness accountants. But his story did give some readers a glimpse of the Samaritan Passover in his day. Read the three articles posted at our web site and decide for yourself.


Reminder of the Samaritan Torah Scroll at the NY Auction.

The handwritten Torah scroll previously owned by Dr. Schrire will be auctioned by Kestenbaum and Company in New York. The Samaritan Scroll was written by Yacob B. Azzi in Shechem in the 1920's and offered at the auction by Fishburn Books of London. The auction will be June 25th. Their website will display the results of the auction at http://www.kestenbaum.net/index.htm Catalogs can be obtained through the website or by phone. The name of the catalog is 'Import Hebrew printed Books.'  And do not forget that Fishburn Books still have some of the remaining books from Dr. Schrire collection still for sale. Visit and inquire at  their website at http://fishburnbooks.com/

Past Articles

Crown, A.D., “The Samaritans, their Literature and the Codicology of their Manuscripts,” BAIAS 15 (1997): 87-104.

Davies, G., “A Samaritan Inscription with an Expanded Text of the Shema,” PEQ 131 (1999): 3-19.  

Fraade, S.D., “Enosh and His Generation Revisited,” in Biblical Figures Outside the Bible, M.E. Stone and T.A. Bergen, eds. (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998), pp. 59-86. For Fragmentary Targums and Samaritan Targum, see pp. 66, 74.

Pummer, R., “The Greek Bible and the Samaritans,” REJ 157:3-4 (1998): 269-358.

Tal, A., “Divergent Traditions of the Samaritan Pentateuch as Reflected by Its Aramaic

           Targum,” JAB 1:2 (1999): 297-314.

Tal, A., “The Hebrew Pentateuch in the Eyes of the Samaritan Translator,” in The

           Interpretation of the Bible: The International Symposium in Slovenia, J. Kraovek, 

           ed., JSOT Supp  289 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998). Samaritan.

Schiffman, Lawrence, The Samaritans in Tannaitic Halakhah," JQR 75 (1985), pp. 323-50

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